Mike Rogge

More Microbead Measures

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, March 6, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last year, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) carried AB 1699, Synthetic Plastic Microbeads, which failed to garner enough votes on the Senate floor and was moved to inactive. This session, the Assemblymember has again introduced another plastic microbead bill, AB 888.

Plastic microbeads are very small particles of plastic ranging in size from 50 to 500 microns that have been used in a wide variety of personal care products, such as facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste. The potential for these microscopic particles to cause problems in the marine environment came to light in the Great Lakes in late 2013. The industry signed an agreement with environmental groups and the states in the region to phase out use of those materials in their products. A bill was passed and signed in Illinois last June which was hoped to be a framework for national legislation.

Bloom’s bill last year sought tighter timelines and definitions that would have eliminated even natural alternatives like beeswax and nut shells being contemplated. It would have also banned thousands of products which would never come in contact with waterways.  This year’s bill, AB 888, would prohibit the sale of personal care products containing intentionally added plastic microbeads, as defined, after January 1, 2020. While the deadline is much better than last year’s original proposal for January, 2016, the definition used for a “plastic microbead” is still a major concern.

On a similar note, Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) has authored SB 625, Synthetic Plastic Microbeads, which is an industry-sponsored bill mirroring the Illinois law. The bill specifies that the ban applies to “rinse-off products” and not to the personal care products  as a whole (nail polish, for example).  The industry takes potential marine contamination seriously and has an interest in seeing a uniform policy instituted throughout the United States.

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